Goddard Memorial State Park is more than a simple plot of land. A state recreation area with 490 acres of land in Potowomut Neck, Warwick, the park has a lot of history behind it. In 1792, Nicholas Brown acquired this land. He later passed it on to his daughter, Hope Brown, who married Thomas Poynton Ives and gave birth to Charlotte Ives Goddard, William’s mother. For many decades after, the land remained home to the family’s mansion, known as "The Oaks,” until it burned down in 1975.
The state park was officially inaugurated in 1930, when it became one of the largest and most historically significant state parks in RI. William Goddard, one of the most important Goddard family members, and for a long time the owner of the estate, is the member of the family most commonly associated with the park.
William Goddard was born on the estate in Potowomut Neck on Christmas Day, 1825. Graduating from Brown University in 1846, by 1848 he was in Europe acting as a courier between local leaders of the 1848 Revolutions. He later returned to Providence and established the firm of Goddard Brothers alongside his brother Thomas. Goddard Brothers acted as an agent for the Rhode Island textile mills owned by their uncles on the Brown and Ives’ sides of the family. Shortly after this, he volunteered as an aide-de-camp to two different generals during the Civil War. He was later promoted to colonel, and he fought in several battles, gaining a commendation for gallantry. He came back to Rhode Island to manage Brown and Ives, a large industrial and commercial company that dealt with everything from financing to real estate and land. He also served as the tenth chancellor of Brown University, as president of the Providence National Bank, and as head of several philanthropic, cultural, and community organizations. During this time, he always lived on his estate in what is today the state park.